Boarding Schools Produce High Concentration of Rhodes Scholars

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In the United States, a remarkably high percentage of Rhodes Scholars are boarding school alumni.

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The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) is the official home of college-prep boarding schools and the definitive guide for students and families.

In the United States, a remarkably high percentage of Rhodes Scholars are boarding school alumni.

Each year, The Rhodes Trust awards just over 80 scholarships worldwide, thirty-two of which go to U.S. citizens. According to The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), roughly 8% of U.S. Rhodes Scholar recipients over the last five years attended a boarding school, even though college prep boarding schools enroll just 39,000 students – one quarter of one percent of the 16.5 million high school students studying in the U.S. One way of putting it: boarding school students are 3,000% more likely than other high school students to become Rhodes Scholars.

The Rhodes Scholarship was established in 1902 upon the death of Cecil Rhodes for postgraduate studies at the oldest English-speaking university in the world, Oxford University. According to the Rhodes Trust, Mr. Rhodes’ will outlined criteria for scholarship recipients, which include “focus on literary and scholastic attainments, and energy to use one's talents to the fullest.”

The nurturing, inclusive academic communities at boarding schools foster and celebrate intellectual promise and provide abundant individual growth opportunities, preparing the student for not only a successful college experience but also for a lifetime of learning. According to a study released in the mid 2000s, 91% of boarding school students reported that their schools are academically challenging, compared to 70% of private day and 50% of public school students. The same study reported students spent twice as much time on homework (17 hours per week compared with 8.5) and enjoyed more time with teachers and staff outside of the classroom.

Among Mr. Rhodes’ other requirements are “truth, courage, and devotion to duty… moral force of character, and instincts to lead and to take interest in one’s fellow beings.”

By mid-career, 60% of boarding school alumni give to social service organizations, compared with 46% of all other high school alumni, according to the same data. Not only are boarding school alumni likely to donate to charities, they also actively engage in helping others and are making a mark on the world at an early age.

Elizabeth Longino, 2010 Rhodes Scholarship recipient and 2006 graduate of The Hockaday School(TX), helped start a foundation in Cambodia addressing child prostitution. William Oppenheim, another 2010 recipient and 2006 Taft School(CT) graduate, founded and directed The Omprakash Foundation, which helps link volunteer teachers with more than 100 grassroots educational projects in 26 countries around the globe.

Boarding schools provide students with a global education and teach social responsibility in addition to traditional academics and extracurriculars. Often, the 24/7 tight-knit community can serve as a living illustration of how one person can have an impact.

Henry Spelman, a 2010 Rhodes Scholarship recipient and 2006 graduate of The Hill School(PA), cites not only the excellent academics but also this distinct nature of boarding school when reflecting on the impact of his secondary schooling.

"The farther I get away from The Hill, the more I realize just how unique and special of a community it is,” Spelman says. “I certainly wouldn't have found my intellectual passion - Ancient Greek - if I had stayed in public school, but The Hill shaped me as a
student and as a person in more profound ways, also. What I see as the great benefit of boarding schools - especially small ones - is that you live, work and play with an incredibly tight-knit, diverse group of people who hold a very admirable and increasingly rare set of values.”

Values that Cecil Rhodes would approve of, no doubt.

About TABS
The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) is the official home of college-prep boarding schools and the definitive guide for students and families. The Asheville NC based not-for-profit organization serves roughly 300 member schools across the United States, Canada, and abroad. Visit http://www.boardingschools.com for more information.

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